I came out a lesbian over 11 years ago, when I was 19. I had made the decision to break up with my high school boyfriend and accept my sexuality fully. While I was coming to terms with being gay, I was also trying to find a way to "fit in" to a whole new community. I didn't know many other people who were LGBTQ+ at the time, so I felt a little lost. I had always been very "feminine-obsessed" with clothes, shoes, and makeup. I've also always been very attracted to girls. When I came out, I thought I had to fit into a stereotype in hopes people would "recognize me" as a lesbian. I cut my hair short and wore boy's clothes. I bought a collection of baseball hats and lined my dorm room walls with pictures of girls. I perpetuated a stereotype instead of actually accepting who I was — a feminine woman attracted to women, or a "femme lesbian."
I perpetuated a stereotype instead of actually accepting who I was — a feminine woman attracted to women.
When I finally realized how ridiculous this concept was, I began to dress the way that made me feel beautiful and sexy. The empowerment that comes from coming out stems from finally accepting your whole self, and I wasn't doing that. Now, I wear my heels and my dresses whenever I damn well feel like it and embrace my femininity. Of course, being a lesbian who doesn't fit the same stereotype I so desperately tried to conform to has its own set of challenges. While I am incredibly lucky to have friends and family members who never make me feel anything other than love, I've definitely faced some struggles as a lesbian (or the term "femme," which is commonly used among the LGBTQ+ community). Here are some of the comments I've had made to me — and my personal thoughts.
1. "But you don't look like a lesbian."
Karma, right? Clearly, when I was just a baby femme and the sapphic world was brand new to me, I fed into this too. Now I know better. I understand that some stereotypes can be based on truths, but the notion of assuming any two human beings are exactly the same based on religion, race, or sexual orientation is absurd. Just because I am a lesbian doesn't mean I need to look any way other than myself.
2. "So, you must be the girl in the relationship, then."
I think this one is probably my favorite because it makes me laugh every time I've been asked it. And trust me, I've been asked this a whole lot. My response is often something along the lines of, "Yes, you're absolutely right. I am the girl. But you know who else is? My wife. Because she's a woman. And we're lesbians. So there are two of us."
3. "A guy must have really screwed you over."
I can only speak from my own personal experiences and no one else's. When someone makes a comment like this to me, I have to find a way to (politely) explain that there was no man involved and that I simply have always liked women.
4. "It's cool — all girls experiment in college."
I don't hear this anymore considering I've been in an eight-year relationship with the beautiful woman who is now my wife. I did, however, hear this pretty consistently when I first had to go through the painful process of coming out to my friends and family. Some of the people in my life at the time explained that, because guys were attracted to me, I would eventually go back to dating men once my "phase" was over. Clearly they were sorely mistaken on that one.
5. "Oh, I thought you two were friends. You're married? That's hot."
My wife and I are social people, so when we go out for a drink somewhere, we always end up meeting new people. When we inevitably come to the point in the conversation with our new friends in which we tell them we are married, we get mixed reactions. One comment we've received frequently (primarily from men) is how hot it is we are a married couple. While I understand this is most likely meant to be a compliment, it still makes me feel a little uncomfortable. When we meet an attractive straight married couple, I don't feel the need to proclaim how hot it is they are married. Again, I appreciate the sentiment, but we'd rather you keep it to yourself. My sexuality and my relationship is not to be ogled at.
Despite what anyone says to me, I am proud to be a lesbian, a wife, and a woman. No, I don't fit a stereotype. I also don't try to be anyone other than me. I may have to do a little more explaining or come out to someone new and wait for the reactions, and that's OK. I proudly put on my lipstick, whip my long hair, and work it in my dresses and wave my rainbow flag high without any shame or explanation. I'm being my authentic self and, at the end of the day, that's all that matters to me.